Share your Craft, Obsidian, Roam, Notion, etc., productivity workflows

I started using Craft a week ago today and I am quite liking it. I’m using it as a note-taking app for my day-to-day work, in conjunction with DevonThink for document storage.

I write marketing copy for a big company, and notes on meetings and projects go in Craft. Likewise for notes and blog articles for a community association I’m active on.

I work from a daily note–new, dated, note every day. Craft makes it easy to break out a few paragraphs (Craft calls them “blocks”) into a new sub-page, and then move that page or link to it from elsewhere.

How are you using Craft, Obsidian, Roam, Notion, and other, similar apps for your day-to-day work? I’m not really interested in zettelkasten here; that’s not something I’m doing.

@ismh you’ve mentioned Craft a couple of times on recent podcasts, and I get the idea you’re deeply invested in it. But I don’t think that was the case when you and David did your notes episode a few weeks ago. So I’m very interested in how you’re using Craft.

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Talked about this at length in the video here. Yeah, I know, I use the Z-word there, but deep down, if you start using links as a primary organisational workflow, like it or not, you are doing Zettelkasten.

Mainly, I go hunting for things that make sense or feel right. Then I gather those small blocks of thought from which I start building a whole story. Links are invaluable in that process. As more pieces fall into place, months of thinking and trail-following later, I end up with an outline. And even more months later, I end up with a book. :slight_smile:

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I’m going to have to watch that video.

I had aspirations for writing novels some years ago, even wrote three, none published. I finally decided I was talking more than I was writing, so I put those ambitions aside for, well, I think it’s a decade now?

But I have these ideas for a novel pecking at my brain for years, so maybe it’s time to pick the ambitions up again and get to work?

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I have struggled after leaving Evernote to find a good “workflow”. I found myself for the last 2-3 years jumping from one app to the next. I was unhappy with Evernote and is becoming extremely sluggish in both search and use with only 2,000 notes. I was also surprised on how limited the format options were, etc. I hopped on to DevonThink based on lots of forums, thinking this could be my “catch-all of storage and writing” (just like Evernote). But this too started becoming more problem. I found that DevonThink is better to just be storage only. I jumped through the hoops of Drafts, Byword, iA Writer, Scrienver, Notion, Ulysses trying to find that seamless workflow. As of now…

Drafts is my quick notes for stuff. I could theoretically switch to Apple Notes, but I liked the flexibility of Drafts.

Ulysses is where 99.99% of all writing takes place, whether assignments, meetings, sermons, etc. and all writing gets saved/archived in there.

DevonThink is where articles, reference materials, quotes, receipts, etc go.

The temptation to try out Craft, Obsidian, or Roam has been tempting. But I can’t justify spending more money. I did a make an attempt on Notion and it was a disaster. Way too much time was spent on setting everything up. The only thing that sounds interesting is this “linking” business. But again, I probably want to see more examples of best use case scenarios.

Craft popped up for me after that episode. I’ve got all work notes in Craft, with personal stuff in Apple Notes. I like the seperation.

@FrMichaelFanous Linking and backlinking seem to be the magic ingredients for apps like Craft/Obsidian/Roam.

I’ve started to find the traditional folder/document hierarchy to be problematic, and tags do not solve those problems for me.

With linking, I can create an index document with a list of documents related to any particular project, organized, labeled and described in a way that tells me at a glance what the document is, not just what its name is.

I see this type of app as being a complement to DevonThink. DevonThink is the documents store for documents other than text. Craft is the store for text documents, and the index for DevonThink documents. You can do the index in DevonThink–which also supports wikilinks–but I find Craft nicer for that.

@ismh And i’m eager to hear how you’re using it. Maybe a subject for a nice long segment of the next follow-up episode, if not a standalone episode of its own.

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I’m currently using a combo of DEVONThink (“DT”) and Obsidian. I store copies of legislation, cases, and secondary legal articles in DT. I keep my notes regarding these items in Obsidian.

My DT workflow is pretty simple: I’ve got DT on my Mac, iPad, and phone. I capture from all of these into the DT inbox. My note taking workflow in Obsidian isn’t much of a workflow. I have a TextExpander snippet to set up my note structure and then just take notes as I’m researching a certain topic. I do this on the Mac.

I have also taken Craft for a spin. It’s great on my iPad (which is where my current note taking workflow mostly breaks down), but it’s not as good on my 2017 MBA as Obsidian. If the MBA performance was better, and if Craft supported tables and an Obsidian-style graph view, I might switch over to Craft.

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Might be the wrong place to ask, but: does Craft not have content search? I tried playing around with it the other day and couldn’t figure out how to get beyond searching filenames.

My workflow: everything’s in Obsidian, synced with NotePlan 3, and indexed in DEVONthink. I use Obsidian’s embedded searches (for which I recently released a plugin) to keep track of projects and tasks. I use daily notes lightly to keep track of what I’m working on and thinking about. NotePlan serves as a good mobile option to be able to review and edit work when AFK. DEVONthink is my full-indexed-search repository of all the above.

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I have all files on my HDD and indexed in DT. My CRM/Project SW is TheBrain (also used for thinking, reasearch etc.) with links to DT files in order to work under iOS. I connected iA Writer to TheBrain for writing. Important emails are inserted into DT from MailMate. Tasks are made in Todoist with links to TheBrain. Specific case studies are made in Margin Note. I plan to use Craft for making documents for external comments by my clients with the possibility to upload/download files from Sync.com through links (Sync.com syncs with my HDD).

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@ryanjamurphy That is an excellent question. I haven’t been using Craft long enough, and accumulated enough content, for that to be an issue.

But I looked around in Craft and found global search: On the Mac, go back to the home screen–Cmd-1–then look for the search icon in the top right.

I haven’t fiddled with it enough to find if it does saved searches, or complex Boolean searches, and whether there’s a global search shortcut.

My intent is to export Craft occasionally into a Markdown folder hierarchy, and then import or index it into DevonThink. Not an ideal solution, but I think it will work.

And eventually I may move to Obsidian, or something else. I’m enjoying Craft for now.

@TheMarty Does The Brain use Finder documents? Is it indexable by DevonThink?

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Ah, it must have needed time to index. Just tried a search again and it picked up contents.

I don’t think there are complex searches (e.g., find my incomplete tasks tagged with “urgent”) nor saved searches. Yet, I’m sure.

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You can attach a copy of a file (TheBrain has its own cloud storage) or a link to a file. I do not think indexing is possible.

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Looks like I’m going to jump down a rabbit hole to see how the cool kids are using it now. Peer pressure, maybe fomo.

@ryanjamurphy @MitchWagner has the free tier been sufficient for your needs? Or did you jump all in?

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No no, sorry. I haven’t used it at all. Just checked to see if a few key features for me were there. (They were not!)

The free tier for Craft is a taster only I think as it has a 1000 ‘block’ limit. Enough to let you really try it out, but not enough to last.
I suppose it it were just used for notes, it may be ok.

It seems like a lot, but you’d be quite limited in how you use it I think to stay within that.
I am using it for for writing my lessons out, and each paragraph I’m just hitting enter and starting a new block. I could hit shift-enter instead and save my blocks, but I’m not wanting to change how I work like that.
My series of 3 lessons on Stress and Strain use up just over 700 blocks, for example.

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I jumped in. 1000 blocks = 1000 paragraphs.

It does, but only on Pro by the looks:

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For preparing lectures, I do all my reading in Apple Books, then I use the export notes function to create Craft documents and then I use those to create presentations.

I also do a lot of academic research where I keep all my reference materials in DEVONthink and I keep qualitative data analysis results like coded interviews in Craft. I find Craft is the best destination for everything that will become the content of a paper. DT is the place I “dump” everything and then I use its search and organization tools to filter, and when I find anything that I’ll be using in a paper I put it in Craft. I then write papers in Ulysses.

I’m more productive with Craft than any other app I’ve tried in the past. The iOS app is fantastic compared to DT to Go (which I was using before).

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Are you sure? I have the Getting Started and Welcome docs, plus a course syllabus and four paragraphs of notes, & it says I’m using 357 blocks. I just tried to import a long md file of notes & it said I’d exceed my quota.

And when I try to import a single TextBundle it says I’m importing too many files & that it’s a pro feature.

They’re not making it easy to try this out.

My workflow, which I’m committed to keeping through 2021, is as follows:

  • Drafts: small snippets of information and composing drafts of sensitive emails before pasting into my email client.
  • Spark: Email
  • Apple Calendar
  • DEVONthink: Document archiving and searching
  • Craft: work and personal notes, including project and meeting notes
  • Things 3: Project/task management
  • Scrivener: Long-form writing
  • iA Writer: short-medium form writing including institutional communications, reports, and blog articles
  • Mindnode: presentation and writing project brainstorming and outlining
  • Logos Platinum: Bible study and research
  • Kindle App: All books
  • PDF Expert: PDF reading, annotation and processing
  • Keynote: presentations
  • Pages: Formal report/proposal presentations
  • Numbers/Excel

Apps I’ve used but ultimately abandoned:

  • Apple Notes: Tired of dealing with periodic syncing issues, bulk export is terrible
  • Ulysses: Great app but Scrivener is feature rich, more flexible and does not require a subscription and when Scrivener is combined with iA Writer I have an excellent writing workflow regardless of the writing project
  • Fantastical: Great app but overpriced for my needs
  • Carrot Weather: Don’t like the GUI or the “personality” feature, not as accurate for my area as The Weather Channel app
  • OmniFocus: Another great app but too fiddly for my purposes and needs
  • Obsidian: I prefer the linking abilities in native apps like Craft and DEVONthink
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